Atomic force microscopy (AFM) was used to study native cellulose films prepared from a bacterial cellulose source, Acetobacter xylinum, using a novel application of the Langmuir-Blodgett technique. These films allowed high-resolution AFM images of single fibers and their microfibril structure to be obtained. Two types of experiments were performed. First, the fibers were characterized using samples that were dried after LB deposition. Next, novel protocols that allowed us to image single fibers of cellulose in films that were never dried were developed. This procedure allowed us to perform in situ AFM imaging studies of the enzymatic hydrolysis of single cellulose fibers in solution using cellulolytic enzymes. The in situ degradation of cellulose fibers was monitored over a 9 h period using AFM. These studies provided the first direct, real-time images of the enzymatic degradation of a single cellulose fiber. We have demonstrated the tremendous potential of AFM to study the mechanism of the enzymatic digestion of cellulose and to identify the most effective enzymes for the digestion of various cellulose structures or isomorphs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Materials Science(all)
- Condensed Matter Physics
- Surfaces and Interfaces